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Environmental woes imperil America's national parks

Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images

Joshua trees face peril from air pollution and climate change, which could leave Joshua Tree National Park with just 10 percent or less of the trees by 2100.

Disappearing glaciers, decreasing air quality and foundation species pushed to the brink of survival: America’s national parks are facing environmental threats that range from tiny invasive species to the planet-spanning impacts of climate change. In some cases, the situation is dire; in others, progress is being made. In aggregate, the issues point to how important — and how fragile — these special places are.

“Each unit in the system has its own unique challenges,” said Al Nash, spokesman for Yellowstone National Park, “but they all reflect a component of who we are and where we’re going. They’re about our shared experience as Americans.”

Consider, for example, the following 12 national parks, which protect unique American landscapes from South Florida to the Northern Rockies. Consider their scenic beauty, their rich histories and, especially, the challenges they face.

Chuck Burton / AP

See some of the nation's most beautiful places are in peril.


Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

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